A big part of the identity of a town is its mix of unique locally owned small businesses.
Today is Small Business Saturday, when consumers are encouraged to do their shopping at those businesses.
This year will be a little different. Shops are limited to 25% capacity, and face masks are required. But what hasn’t changed is the wide array of shopping experiences on the Harbor and local businesses’ reliance on the business of their fellow citizens to keep them going.
“Small Business Saturday has become a common tagline across the nation. But now, more than ever, shopping locally with small business must be a priority and a way of life in order to preserve and enhance our community’s livelihood,” said Lynnette Buffington, CEO of Greater Grays Harbor Inc. “Grays Harbor has a tremendous amount of locally owned businesses that are innovating and rising to the occasion to connect with the local consumer.”
“Nov. 28 is Small Business Saturday and I urge folks to consider our downtown businesses first for their shopping experience. Yes there are limits and restrictions due to COVID but our businesses have been diligent and creative to keep their doors as open as possible,” said Wil Russoul, executive director of the Downtown Aberdeen Association. “Not all businesses received funding through the CARES Act — and for those who have, the money still did not go far enough.”
Jody Peterson, owner of Sadistik Sykles motorcycle shop in Hoquiam and president of the Hoquiam Business Association, said Hoquiam businesses are open and ready to serve.
“The shops are not closed. I believe they are at 25% capacity, so at least a party of three here in the motorcycle shop,” said Peterson.
The benefits of shopping locally go beyond helping a single business, said Peterson.
“I ask that people go to Facebook, go to the internet, to see the businesses that are here and at least make a run downtown to see if there is something tangible here they can find,” she said. “That’s the neatest thing.”
The tangible nature of local shopping is often forgotten in this age of online retail, but there is something to be said about being able to put your hands on a product before making the decision to buy. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for in one shop, there’s “the trickle-down of shopping local. When you walk into a business and they might talk to you about another business who may assist you with another type of need, if they don’t have what you need,” Peterson said.
There are shopping and support options for those who don’t want to be among others at this point in time.
“Folks need to remember they can order curbside, get deliveries, do take-out, purchase gift cards and most importantly say ‘hello” to folks working downtown,” said Russoul.
“Supporting these businesses takes action, and we encourage residents and visitors alike to take the time to connect with local small businesses this holiday season and beyond,” said Buffington. “Locally owned businesses create vibrant communities that flourish and inspire entrepreneurship, which ultimately creates a thriving local economy — which is something we all can celebrate.”
Some towns, including Hoquiam and Westport, have actually had new businesses open during the pandemic. They and others depend on local support — not just during the holidays, but year-round.
“In these unprecedented times, it is more important than ever to support our local businesses,” said Leslie Eichner, executive director of the Westport-Grayland Chamber of Commerce.” The Westport-Grayland Chamber of Commerce urges everyone to do their part to help the businesses in our area stay viable and thrive by shopping locally. This, in turn, supports the essential workers who are employed by these businesses and are there for you every day.”
The internet makes shopping locally easier than it’s ever been. Most local stores have their own websites or Facebook pages. The Hoquiam Business Association, Westport-Grayland Chamber and Downtown Aberdeen Association have lists of them on their own websites.
Plenty of local shopping opportunities are there, if you just look for them.
“The biggest thing I see is sometimes people drive through town with blinders on,” said Peterson. When your eyes are open to it, you’ll find a lot of variety: galleries, antique shops, bicycle shops, clothing stores, music shops, body art, record stores, crafting, the list goes on.
Small Business Saturday is a good exercise for refocusing locals on what their own area’s businesses have to offer, but supporting the businesses who support the local economy, and the community as a whole, is important year-round.
“Small Business Saturday is but one day, and in Aberdeen’s situation we hope that our community extends their shopping practices far beyond the 28th,” said Russoul. “While it’s easy to run to big-box stores or order online, please remember that our small businesses are the ones who support our kids’ activities in sports, schools, music and many other special activities.”
There are dining options while you’re shopping locally as well, with some outdoor seating options while dining areas are closed by order of the governor.
“There are several restaurants sharing outdoor dining,” said Peterson. For example, the tent adjacent to Ashley’s Pub Haus is open for covered distanced seating, and Brunch 101 and Sgt. Brand’s Barbecue are taking phone orders and will walk your order to you there. “You can sit under the canopy and eat, and it’s just nice out there. At least you’re not getting wet!”
Other restaurants in the Aberdeen/Hoquiam area are also offering some outdoor seating options. Search them up on Facebook.
Just what the future holds for local businesses is up in the air as we navigate the pandemic that shares that air. But Russoul is confident the community will persevere.
“This holiday season brings a mix of hardships and a dose of worry among many within our downtown community in Aberdeen, and I am sure the same feelings are in households across the Harbor,” he said. “I continue to believe that what makes Aberdeen so great is the ability to pull together and like our forefathers rebuild again what circumstances have attempted to rob and disappoint us.”
• For businesses in Hoquiam, visit the Hoquiam Business Association website, https://www.hoquiambusinessassociation.com/, and Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/hoquiambusinessassociation/.
• For South Beach businesses, visit the Westport/Grayland Chamber of Commerce website, http://westportgrayland-chamber.org/categories.php.
• For businesses throughout the county, Greater Grays Harbor Inc. has a large list on its website, https://chamber.graysharbor.org/list/.